Why You Need Boundaries
Once during a regular catch-up, I had a team member break down in tears and confess that she was close to resigning.
This team member was an EA for a very busy executive. She was experienced and brilliant in her role, but had reached burnout-ville.
She said she was feeling:
// stressed and overworked
// stuck and unable to speak up about her workload
// sick to her stomach from the pressure
I asked her to talk me through what was happening and why she was feeling this way. She identified that a heavy workload and constant requests from her executive were wearing her down. She couldn't see a way out and felt responsible for doing everything for the executive and his team.
But - what really surprised me was when I asked what she did outside of work.
// First thing in the morning she would check her work phone to see if anything new had come in, even before getting out of bed
// She would have her phone visible in the bathroom when getting ready for work to keep an eye on her emails or messages
// She then used her devices on the commute to and from work
// Her work phone was the last thing she checked before going to sleep and she kept it next to her bed all night
// AND she worked on the days that she was sick or on leave
She was practically working 24x7 - and wasn't being paid to do so.
This is NOT healthy.
Technology and portable devices means that we are now contactable more than ever. The urge to check work emails and respond straight away can become an addictive habit.
Working with global teams or stakeholders means that our traditional 9-5 work day can become blurred, and we can end up work longer days without even realising it.
But for the sake of your health and happiness, your brain and body desperately needs you to SWITCH OFF from work.
Your mental and emotional resources need to be refuelled for what you've used throughout the day. When this doesn't happen, your body stays in a flight or fight mode and your immune and adrenal systems can become compromised.
Work life boundaries are critical to avoid burnout, stress or exhaustion.
I know because I've been there.
I've been that person who checks work emails constantly, sending them late at night or on weekends when really there was no need to. It was then hard for my brain to switch off, which affected my sleep quality. I would wake up in the middle of the night with a long to do list!
I realised over time that I was prioritising my work over everything else, which was starting to affect my happiness, stress levels and my health. I now prioritise a healthier work life balance with better boundaries, so that I can relax, recharge my batteries and spend beautiful time with my loved ones.
There are steps you can take right away to establish boundaries and reprioritise your time. Here are the steps we took to rebalance my team member's work life mix:
// I had her assess where she's spending most of her time across all areas of her life… No prizes for guessing where! Having this visually mapped out helped her to see how her life was imbalanced and what was actually important to her.
// We reprioritised her workload and identified ways she could use her time more productively during the work day.
// She had a (long overdue) conversation with her executive on her workload, his requests and the times of the day that she would be available - including how/when he could contact her only for urgent situations outside of hours.
// We identified where she could delegate or reprioritise tasks.
// She also started leaving her work phone on silent and in another room when she went to bed and to not obsessively check it when at home.
// She created professional and career goals that helped her to find clarity on what she should be focusing on at work, and not get caught up in the busy-ness.
// Personally she set goals to spend more time with her loved ones, exercise more and also take up rock climbing!
There are many benefits from an improved work life balance - you will feel more relaxed, have more energy, feel empowered, and are also likely to be more productive and happier when at work!
You might have a job where work and home boundaries are different or blurred, which might be unavoidable. But it's up to you to think where you know you could be more diligent about switching off and invest your personal time into the areas of your life that really matter.
Now it's your turn - review the list below key life areas and assess out of 100% where your time is spent.
Where are you spending most of your time? Where would you prefer to be spending your valuable time? What areas need more balance?
// Family and friends
// Health and wellbeing
// Learning and growth
// Fun stuff
// Spirituality, religion and life purpose
Life's too short to spend it only working - start taking back your life today!
If you need help to reduce stress, take back control and rebalance your life, let's connect - email me firstname.lastname@example.org